Step-by-Step Hand Lettered Graphic

Step-by-Step Hand Lettered Graphic

Step-by-Step Hand Lettered Graphic

About the Project

During the day I am almost always styling WordPress Websites or creating branded graphics for social media for clients, but I like to design outside of the ole 9:00-5:00, too! I attend The Water’s Edge church in West Omaha and Pastor Craig and the staff are always open minded when it comes to small church campaigns that need a little flair. The Water’s Edge (WE) is in the final stages of a completing our first ever physical church facility; exciting times for past, present, and future members! This building (WE Build… get it? OK.) has been years in the making and there’s not a single milestone we will not celebrate. In the spring of 2017, I was tasked with graphics for the Groundbreaking Event. This was one of the those projects that just came to me. The only item I got really lucky on the was the yellow construction helmet.

If you’ve read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic, this project is a prime example of “big magic” for me. The general premise is that inspiration passes through individuals, and when a person embraces inspiration and takes action the magic just happens. This project took me around 8 hours to complete, including editing and creating custom social media graphics. I am the over-researcher of over-researchers so to think of and execute a project in an afternoon is, well, magic for me.

Here are the steps I took to create a hand lettered graphic.

WE Build Dirt Lettering Graphic

Step 1: Visualize the Finished Graphic

I knew the goal of this project was to create graphics to promote an event and I would have to find ways to use the same static images at different sizes and dimensions. What works well as a long skinny rectangle does not fit comfortably into a square. I start pretty much every project with a pencil and paper so I sketched out “WE Build” on a plain sheet of paper to figure out the angle and shapes I wanted. I also had to consider the sizes of potential props and how they might fit into the overall composition.

tools, dirt, and poster board supplies to create lettering project

Step 2: Gather Supplies

The only items I bought for this project were a large white foam board and a yellow foam construction hat from my Local Craft Store. (Ok, it was Hobby Lobby, not trying to be political here). As I mentioned above, that little construction helmet was my only struggle/lucky find. All other supplies were found in my own garage. These supplies-turned-photoshoot-props included dirt from a landscaping project, two small shovels, a tape measure, work gloves, a hammer, a level, and pliers. To set my extremely glamorous stage, I used an old white bed sheet, a ladder, and my good camera to take photos.

blank poster board before lettering project

Step 3: Control the Environment

I wanted to use real dirt and props, no stock photography, so I knew I needed to be able to control my set up. I decided to use my garage for a few reasons. First, using the garage would give me plenty of room to spread out and climb up and down a ladder. Second, it’s easy to clean or sweep up any messes. Third, I wanted natural light. Luckily our garage opens to the West so I got lots of natural light without the light being too harsh. I’m all about that golden hour evening light. Being surrounded by 3 walls kept the dirt and other supplies from being blown around by wind or strong breezes (Midwest living, am I right?).

I would also like to add that this type of project is perfect for freaking out your neighbors. Bonus points if they already think you’re weird!

close up of letters spelled and drawn with dirt

Step 4: Start Spelling Already

Did I mention I used dirt for the lettering? I started by drawing two parallel sloping lines so that all my letters would be about the same height. Then I used my precious, keyboard-typing, non-manual labor hands to grab handfuls of dirt and start roughly drawing each letter. It’s super fun and low stress to use a material with the consistency of sand for letterforms because you just sweep away any part you want to reshape or get rid of.

View from ladder looking down at props and lettering

Step 5: Place Your Props

The internet and my heart would like to refer to this next step as “styling” the props. I gathered my collection o’ tools and started lying them around the edges of the letters. And then I repeated these steps approximately 75 times: arrange props, crawl up ladder, hang off ladder, take photo, crawl down ladder, rearrange props.

Final hand lettered graphic to be used in social media efforts

Step 6: Clean Up Crew

Next was time to clean up the images in Photoshop. Oh, did you think I was talking about the garage? I did that, too, in fact it only took me 7 months to bring the poster board back up to my office! Being married to a designer is thrilling – you don’t know what kind of supplies you’ll find lying around or how long they’ll be there! I uploaded my favorite/best shots and got to work brightening up colors, tracing and masking props and letters so that I could put them on a clean white background and move all of the pieces around for the various sizes. This step also includes adding typography and hoping people like it. “Oh, you actually wrote that?!” You better believe it. And it was FUN.

Have you ever had projects that come to fruition so easily, you just blink and they happen? Do you also leave miscellaneous projects supplies lying around for longer than you should? If you do, we would make terrible roommates!

Grace in All Places: Finding Focus in 2017

Grace in All Places: Finding Focus in 2017

Grace in all places: Finding Focus in 2017

Grace in All Places: Finding Focus in 2017

My 2016 held many unique experiences. I learned so much personally and professionally. I could probably say the same thing at the close of every year, but last year was different. I took on new roles I wasn’t sure about, created things I didn’t know I could create, spent time with people I love, and explored new destinations.

And I took on way too much.

I spread myself too thin; this is a recurring theme in my life as a people pleaser. All were things I deeply cared about, all things I want to continue doing, but it was too much at once. But the calm after the chaos left me wondering… what do I want to focus on? What’s the important stuff? What’s the work that can’t wait until later? There are seasons that ask and seasons that answer; 2016 was certainly a season of asking.

Professionally and technically speaking, I *feel* like I grew tremendously in the last year. Things that once felt just out of reach–designing a published book and customizing websites–are now familiar. Personally speaking, I learned and continue to learn how to better balance quiet time alone with fun experiences with family and friends. There were a lot of things I wanted to learn, and I did. There were a lot of things I needed to learn, whether I wanted to or not. You don’t know what you don’t know, ya know? And the question remains, how do those experiences come together moving forward? What should I focus on moving forward?

While I wait for the answers to life’s bigger questions, I’m choosing for focus on giving and accepting grace.

Grace for Others

I hold the people in my life to very high standards. Typically because they are exceptionally amazing, intelligent, and capable humans. But they are humans. They will err. We only know of others what they say and do, and I think very few people intentionally say or do things to make others miserable. With that in mind, I want to focus on leaving a little extra room for people to function, respond, or communicate in their own way. Accepting for who they are, not who we want or expect them to be. No one is all good or all bad, there are too many shades between the two. Jayce O’Neal’s quote sums this up perfectly, “We judge others by their actions and ourselves by our intentions. We need to offer grace to all, because we all need a little grace.” I need to write that quote on 1,000 sticky notes. Grace for others at work, at home, at church, on the phone, on the internet, in person, in line at the grocery store, in all places.

Grace for Me

If there is one person I hold to higher standards than others, it is myself. Dumb things I said, workouts I didn’t do, texts I forgot to respond to, and projects I didn’t give my full attention to bounce around in my brain. I beat myself up for weeks about minor, potentially unnoticed, offenses. Maybe you can relate? Some of those echoes are unnecessary baggage, others are motivation for growth. I want to let those past perceived mess-ups fade into the background so I can more clearly focus on the good stuff in 2017–the encouraging notes I will write, the long walks I will enjoy, the new projects I will tackle. Grace for me in my relationships, in my career, in my projects, in all places.

I don’t yet know how all my 2016 questions will be answered but, in the meantime, I’m going to focus on growth and grace while I wait. Grace for others, myself, at home, at work, at church, in all places.

What are you choosing to focus on in 2017? Anything you’re planning to leave behind?

Katie Kassel, Graphic & Web Designer in Omaha, NE
Katie Kassel

Graphic and web designer in Omaha, Nebraska. Logos, branding, WordPress websites, and weddings.

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Pinspiration: Pretty Petals

Pinspiration: Pretty Petals

It’s that time again. The time for a collection of pretty images that found themselves living in harmony on my Pinterest boards. This time of year always seems kind of long. Here in the Midwest, we are hanging in the balance between late winter and early spring. (more…)

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